I’ve reached an interesting point in my life where my parents have gone from their prime earning years to a time when they no longer work for new income but instead live off money they have saved over the years. So far, their retirement has been an interesting experience as they have gone through a number of different stages.
Initially, my parents seemed bored. After spending their entire adult lives building careers and raising a family they suddenly had more free time then they knew what to do with. My father played a lot of spider solitaire on the computer and my mother would spend hours working in her garden. When winter came around she suddenly lost her primary past time and didn’t really know what to do. They weren’t sad but they weren’t full of energy either. I worried about what the next portion of their life would be like.
Then they got active. Before I knew it my father was building horse pens on his property, having pipe laid so that the property would be able to water all areas on an irrigation system. He started taking his boat out and was doing a lot of fishing. My mother started book clubs, spending time helping out at the thrift store, and visited often with my sister and her family. They were doing more and more and really seemed to be enjoying their lives fully again.
Their activity has only increased over the years. I’ll be honest that I believe they have more responsibilities and tasks now than they did at the end of their careers. They’re helping the community, volunteering at church to help people with their own family history, and helping the community learn about grants available to help them improve their farm properties. They assist at local universities, travel often to see friends and family and host guests almost every month.
One of the major concerns I had was their ability to sustain themselves on a limited income and walked through their financial situation with my family. My father explained:
- They had saved a significant amount that provided a solid income stream through interest
- Social Security and other government assistance for retirees actually brought down their costs like health insurance
- Without children, their financial obligations were mostly gone
- Their cars and boats were paid for and received tax benefits for having horses on their property
- They were earning more in retirement than most Americans lived off of.
- They had options, like utilizing a reverse mortgage from companies like AAG, should they need additional income streams
Overall it’s been a great experience to see my parents in retirement. They’re busy and happy and my children love seeing their active and engaging grandparents. I’m happy to know they’re financially sound.